It's been an interesting week for candidates for the European Qualifying Examination (EQE), particularly those who applied to sit the exam in the UK. As the exam represents the culmination of years of study for prospective patent attorneys, and the IPKat has always been keenly interested in all EQE matters. Here's a roundup of what's been happening.
UK examination centre
Last year, the UK exam centre was a frozen, drafty hall in Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol. CIPA tried to remedy the situation without much success, bringing in space heaters, but the power supply in the stadium was unable to cope with the electricity demands. After the exam was over, CIPA apologised to candidates and vowed to choose a better venue for the 2017 exam.
The new venue chosen was Walsall Football Club in the West Midlands. Over the last few weeks candidates who elected to sit the exam there have received will-they-won't-they reports and messages about whether they could be accommodated. The IPCopy blog provided an excellent report on the story. By the middle of this week, it appeared that about half of the candidates who had expressed a preference for sitting the exam in Walsall had been told they would instead have to travel to Munich.
The CIPA Informals Committee wrote an open letter of protest to the CIPA Council on Friday, and then reports emerged that extra space had been found and all candidates could be accommodated after all. The IPKat hopes that this is the last surprise that candidates get and that when March comes around the venue lives up to the promises from CIPA, and the only drafts are those on the candidates' exam scripts.
UPDATE: Since drafting this post, the IPKat received the following update from the Informals Committee:
25 November 2016 Update:
We are aware of a notice being sent out this morning from the EQE Secretariat confirming that everyone who wishes to sit the EQE in Walsall is now able to do so, and should communicate by reply E-mail to the Secretariat by 10 AM GMT, Monday, 28 November 2016.
This in no way changes our opinion on the situation, and further reflects the lack of communication regarding organisation of the 2017 EQEs in the UK. We are aware of the fact that many people have already taken steps to re-arrange their travel and accommodation plans for Munich, and this notice in no way compensates the time and money that has already been spent.
CIPA Informals’ Committee Education Coordinators
Pre-registration at the start of training
To sit the EQEs, a candidate must provide certification of having trained for three years under a qualified patent attorney, or to have worked as an EPO examiner for four years. Traditionally, this certification was submitted with one's application to sit the exam.
In future, however, trainees will have to enrol at the beginning of their training, and only training activities that occurred within the period beginning two months before the date of enrolment will be counted towards the three-year training period. The IPKat wonders whether some candidates (or their employers) have provided questionable certifications, causing this change.
A transitional period up to 31 March 2017 will allow enrolments to be made covering all past training periods without time limitation. As of 1 April 2017 only current activities occurring two months before the registration date will be taken into account. Candidates who have already been admitted to the EQE (pre- or main examination) do not need to register. This includes candidates who have already been admitted to the EQE but have not yet sat an examination paper.
More information can be found on the EQE pages of the EPO website, including a link to the enrolment portal.
The marathon gets longer ...
In a decision of 17 November, the Supervisory Board announced that all four papers of the main examination (but not the pre-examination) will have their duration extended by 30 minutes, bringing the exam times to four hours (Paper A); three and a half hours (Paper B); and five and a half hours (both Paper C and Paper D). Bring a snack or two...
... and everyone will run the same course
As a reminder, 2017 will be the first year when every candidate will sit the same version of the drafting and amendment papers (A & B), replacing the traditional speclialised electrical/mechanical and chemical papers. A video interview on Papers A and B explains the changes, and mock papers with examiner reports are also available: Paper A (examiner report) and Paper B (examiner report).
Dates for 2018 exam
In 2018 the exam will be held in the week commencing Monday 26 February 2018. This is a week or so earlier (and closer to winter ...) than the 2017 exam which will be held from March 6 to March 9.